Science Festival 2017: Revel in a century of public broadcasting

By Brian Mattmiller, Morgridge Institute for Research

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 4.43.40 PMThe 2017 Wisconsin Science Festival on November 2-5 will celebrate one of the great scientific “firsts” that Wisconsin bestowed on the world — the birth of public radio — while gazing into the future of radio technology, including the search for extraterrestrial life.

Mark your calendars for one of the festival’s headliner events on Friday, Nov. 3, from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Discovery Building, 330 North Orchard Street. As part of the continuing celebration of the 100th anniversary of public broadcasting in Wisconsin, tune in to a decade-by-decade interactive tour depicting broadcasting’s evolution, a working replica of the original transmitter built in 1917, and a panel discussion on the next 100 years of broadcasting.

The 8 p.m. panel discussion will include Maggie Turnbull, an Antigo native and UW-Madison alumnus now achieving renown as a “planet hunter.” Dr. Turnbull is an astronomer and astrobiologist who uses radio waves and other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to find planetary “signatures” that suggest they could support life. Her latest project is “WFIRST” (Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope), a NASA effort to image Earth-size planets in habitable zones of their stars using creative engineered tools such as an origami starshade. Moderating the panel will be Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA and NOVA ScienceNow.

The evening will include a closer look at the legacy of Earle Terry, the UW-Madison physics professor who built the first transmitter under the call letter 9XM — a precursor to WHA. Terry was driven to find a better way to share severe weather and agricultural information across rural Wisconsin, successfully shifting in 1917 from morse code to voice transmissions. Read more …

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